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RAF Desert Uniform

Discussion in 'WWII' started by DoolittleRaider, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. hello Fellow Loungers!

    im in quite the personal predicament, im trying to create a Uniform that portrays the RAF in the Desert Theatre.

    ive got the basic ideas, what im having trouble with is getting the right insignia placement. so if yall have any pictures or can help me, i would greatly appriciate it!

    i decided to go with the desert uniform instead of the regular blue service dress, mainly becasue i cannot find it anywhere in my size! the only place i could find anything close to the blue service dress was the early war aircrew pattern battle dress, im not sure that it would work for an Eagle Squadron Impression.

    im fairly new to the RAF uniform and i find very little information in the states, maybe the chaps across the pond could possibly help a Yank out?[huh]

    im planning to wear it to a hangar dance i have coming up in october in texas.

    thanks again!:D
  2. Sgt Brown

    Sgt Brown One of the Regulars

  3. Baggers

    Baggers Practically Family

    Yes, WPG's KD RAF service dress tunic and trousers would be perfect for an officer's impression, but I don't think dressing it out as Eagle Squadron would be accurate. Desert Air Force had Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, South Africans and Southern Rhodesians if I recall.
  4. DAF was (at least at one point) a USAAF / RAF joint venture. Check out the patch worn on the US Uniform:


    Also check out THIS site:


    Interesting photo there:

    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  5. Baggers

    Baggers Practically Family

    Perhaps after the U.S. entered the war in 1941 and definitely after Torch, but up until then I believe it was an all Empire show. I guess when I think Desert Air Force I go back to 1940 when it was nothing but Gladiators, Hurricanes, Spitfires and Tomahawks against the Italians and then Germans. I'm more of an 8th Army kind of guy and any Yanks would have been fighting with the British and French of the 1st Army as they headed east through Tunisia to meet up with Montgomery. With all due respect to Cpl. Willard, I don't see how he could have been supporting Montgomery at Alamein when it was an all British show. Memories fade and reporters screw things up.

    The patch is interesting, but could it belong to a small liason unit formed after the DAK surrendered in 1943?

    Still, weren't the Eagle Squadrons strictly Battle of Britain stuff after which their members who chose to do so transferred into the USAAF? I'm still trying to figure out an explanation for a yank in RAF KD with an ES patch on his shoulder and it's not working. Wouldn't they all have been in U.S. uniform by then?
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  6. Zig

    Zig New in Town

    The 3 Eagle Squadrons were in existance from late 1940 to Sept 29, 1942, and based in the UK the whole time. So the Blue/Gray 4 pocket Service Dress and Blue/Gray BD uniforms are both correct to use for that. But they did not wear the KD Desert or Tropical RAF Uniforms. Some fellows did stay in the RAF after the Official Transfer, and I believe about three made it to the Desert later in the RAF, but not in Eagle Uniform. About 3-4 made it to the Middle East as well, and one became a prisoner of the Japanese. For the summer uniforms, you could put on the Red "USA" flashes, if you wish to do American.

    If you want to wear the RAF Service Dress, try looking for an original that will fit you. Smaller sizes are out there.
  7. Of course everybody is free to do what he or she likes - but having a Eagle Squadron badge on a RAF dessert war uniform is just not right.
    ES were - as others all ready have said - in UK only.
    Why not flash a Australian or New Zealand shoulder badge instead?
    And remember: A sweaty "bushjacket", shorts and 1936 pattern flying boots is a must! And great for dancing too :)

    Here's a bit of inspiration:
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  8. Well, boys, we were ALL a little bit wrong (except Zig). Went to my library this morning and dug out *Desert Eagles* by Humphrey Wynn (1993), which is based on the diaries of two former ES pilots who opted to stay with the RAF and subsequently flew with the DAF. According to Wynn, there were at least four former *eagles* who flew in the desert. That they would have worn an ES patch on their prior duty post shoulder would have fit with USAAF uniform traditions/regulations but not (as I understand it) with the RAF.

    Interesting side note: The DAF as an operational force DID include the USAAF as of Oct. 1942, including the 81st Sqdn., 12th BG (flying B25s). See: *Men of the Desert Air Force,* Chaz Bower (1984).
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  9. Baggers

    Baggers Practically Family

    When all else fails, open a book. :D Now that that is settled, in the absence of pictures of the actual pilots, let's get to the nitty gritty of insignia. Just tossing out a guess, if the ES squadron patch was worn on the shoulder, unless it was made up in KD cloth (with red embroidery?)it would have not been sewn on, but attached with small press studs for easy removal before laundering, along with any other wool embroidered insignia such as wings or medal ribbons. The only thing sewn on would have been (probably) red on khaki "USA" shoulder flashes, but they could have been incorporated with the shoulder rank lace at the base of the slip on or shoulder board. Sound right?

    And again, just a guess, this probably would have been his best dress uniform reserved for ceremonies and leaves. More than likely his uniform out in "the blue" would have been pretty much as Spitfire indicated, shirt, shorts, flying boots and a bush jacket with rank lace on slip ons and wings at most, all available at WPG.
  10. The Bower book is worth having BECAUSE of the wealth of pilot photos. (My scanner is down or I'd post some.) These guys were a RAG-TAG bunch in the field. Lots and lots of civilian shoes. Mixed-matched uniforms. Scarves. Tan/blue combinations.

  11. spitfire,

    i wouldnt dream of placing ES patches on a desert uniform and portraying something that did not happen.

    let me clarify what i meant when i was talking about an Eagle squadron impression. i want to do a eagle squadron impression, but beacuse icannot find any blue service dress in my size, i was going to try and subtitute that with the BD from WPG.

    my other option, if that wouldnt be appropriate, would be to portray the RAF in the Desert or Aussies/Kiwis in the Pacific. then i would use the desert khakis

    sorry for the confusion fellas. :eusa_doh:

    seems as if yall are having quite the discussion about this, thanks for youre help gents, i really appreciate it

    i cant wait to build my uniform and show it off!:D
  12. Zig

    Zig New in Town

    Wearing the BD or "Suits, Aircrew" is fine with an Eagle Squadron impression. The neat thing with the Eagles is that it was at that wierd time in the RAF, for the change of equipment. The early part is really the Battle of Britain look. Same gear, etc. Then the BD became available for flying duties, and then the early 1941 pattern Mae Wests, early C Helmets, 1939 pattern boots, Type E masks, etc. But for dances and walking out, the 4 pocket Service Dress should be worn. BD for on base.
    The ES patch should be worn on both shoulders. The exception is on BD, some would only put the patch on the right sleeve for easy removal in case they were forced down. Same with Sgt rank. I've researched the Eagles for a little over 30 years and have known a number of them.
    Good luck with the impression!
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  13. Zig

    Zig New in Town

    Here's a photo of 121 Eagle Squadron in the summer of 1942. Showing the BD being worn by the fellows, as well as a couple 4 Pocket tunics.

  14. Stearmen

    Stearmen I'll Lock Up

    If your going to be at air shows, my vote goes for RAF Desert! 100 plus degrees on the flight line in Eagle Squadron wool, no thanks!
  15. Baggers

    Baggers Practically Family

    Excellent point, Stearman. Especially in Texas!
  16. cco23i

    cco23i A-List Customer

    AMEN fellas!
  17. Redtobin

    Redtobin New in Town

    You can safely order KD shorts and a KD shirt from WPG. You should have them in 1-2 weeks. The shorts obviously will not need to be taken to a tailor, and I've never had to have the sleeves shortened on one of his shirts. If you get a short sleeve shirt, then just like the shorts, you definitely won't need to worry about it.

    Don't worry about web gear since you are a pilot. It's my understanding that pilots were issued revolvers, but they rarely carried them. The feeling was that if they were shot down, a pistol with 6 bullets is not going to do much good. This is what I would do, especially if you want to look like one of the pilots in the photo.

    Order KD shorts and KD short sleeve shirt. For the shirt, you could get a long sleeve shirt and possibily roll up the sleeves, which was very common in the British military. Order some of the long green knee socks (you shoud see these under British footwear). Unless you have flying boots you want to wear, just wear a pair of black dress shoes. Plain old school black dress shoes.

    For your head, your options are a side cap, dress cap, or a flying helmet. Either order something from WPG or wear something from your collection. It's very easy to do a good RAF impression if you're doing a desert / tropical impression. Based on period photos, the uniform standards were relaxed in those areas. They were of course expected to wear uniform items, but they mixed and matched based on personal comfort.

    This year in Lancaster Tx, Sept 3rd 2011, I'll probably wear KD shorts, KD shirt with the sleeves rolled up, the green knee socks, black dress shoes, and I think I'll wear my flying helmet. Just like in your photo, when I'm waiting for the scramble bell, I'll leave the helmet in my lap or on a table. If I'm walking around, I'll put it on.
  18. cco23i

    cco23i A-List Customer

    Red you coming to Midland for the airshow in October?

  19. I can highly recommend the WPG belted shirt, which I typically wear with the sleeves rolled up. I don't do a military impression - I actually bought it for civilian use - but nonetheless, it's great. Very pleased with the quality. I'd like to replace the plastic slider-buckle with something in brass eventually, but it is perfectly serviceable.

  20. mikepara

    mikepara Practically Family

    Nice rig but shooting Tiggas! Tut Tut!

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